Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

2009 F1 season

Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi

Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi

F1 has lost its third team in less than 12 months as Toyota has confirmed it will not compete in 2010.

It brings to an end the company’s eight-year involvement in Formula 1 during which time it is believed to have spent more money than any other team on the grid.

The team’s F1 future had been widely doubted since Honda withdrew at the end of 2008. Toyota originally entered F1 in 2002 to compete with Honda, which had returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Suzuka, 2009Toyota joins a host of Japanese car manufacturers reducing their motor racing activity. Subaru, Mitsubishi and Suzuki have all down-sized their rally efforts, with the former quitting the World Rally Championship.

Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also decided to leave F1 when its exclusive deal expires at the end of 2010. And the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, which was brought up to F1 standards to hold the Japanese Grand Prix in 2007 and 2008, will not be holding any more Grands Prix.

There were rumours earlier this year the team would only remain in F1 if it won a race. That it failed to do, despite locking out the front row of the grid at Bahrain. The failure to seize on that opportunity, and the demotion of both of its cars to the back of the grid at Melbourne – from where they rose to finish third and fourth – may have cost it its F1 future.

It ended 2009 fifth in the championship with 59.5 points. That was its second-best ever year in F1 – its highest placing was fourth with 88 points, in 2005.

Despite its lack of success there were some grounds for optimism the team would continue. Toyota boss John Howett was the vice-president of the Formula 1 teams’ association. He played a major role in the negotiations with the FIA over how F1 costs could be reduced and the team signed the Concorde Agreement committing it to remain in F1 until 2012.

But this desire to bring costs down and commit to the future of the sport has not spared the team. Last month Toyota’s new CEO Akio Toyoda said the company was “grasping for salvation” – given that grim assessment, it’s hrdly surprising its F1 team has been clsoed down.

As well as the hundreds of staff at its Cologne headquarters, spare a thought for Kamui Kobayashi. Just three days ago his impressive performance at Abu Dhabi was praised by the team and he was expected to earn a place in Toyota’s 2010 line-up.

That will not happen, though it remains to be seen if anyone might step in to take the team’s place in F1. If not, it presents an opportunity for Qadbak, who bought the remains of BMW’s F1 team, to get on the grid in 2010.

But the bad news may not be over just yet – Renault are holding a board meeting today to decide on the future of its team. Having been the focus of a major scandal this year, and with no title sponsor for 2010, could it become the fourth F1 team to quit?

Images ?é?® Toyota

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185 comments on Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

  1. steph90 said on 4th November 2009, 11:59

    Kovy may also have trouble as he was linked to be moving there, Trulli has nothing now to wait for he may as well just sign for Lotus. Glock will be aprehensive, Toyota have pulled out and his chances at Renault it doubt now they are holding this board meeting.
    I agree with Ned that I won’t really miss the team, but I feel immensely sorry for those losing jobs.
    Teams coming into F1 should commit for the long term, this year has been one of the most unstable in F1. It shows that it doesn’t matter how much cash you can throw at the sport you have to commit and approach it in the right way. Not for image or just trophies but because you genuinely want to be in F1 or teams will dabble and pull out and more jobs will be lost.
    I don’t think Renault will go or maybe that is wishful thinking. They have won before and I’m certain they can win again and they have got through the Singapore scandal now and survived.
    So now engine suppliers are Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth.

  2. Chalky said on 4th November 2009, 12:09

    So now engine suppliers are Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth.

    That depends if Qadbank use BMW engines and are allowed in. Or have BMW pulled their engine support now?
    If Toyota sell their F1 team, will their engines go too?
    Honda left no engine choice for other teams.

    Anyway, no ones going anywhere in race 1 until they find someone to supply some tyres. :D

    • ajokay said on 4th November 2009, 12:15

      Ferrari have said they’d supply ‘Sauber’ with engines for the 2010 season if they make it that far.

      • Chalky said on 4th November 2009, 13:12

        Yep your right and Toyota have said they will not supply F1 engines for another team next year too.
        So that does leave just 4.
        Mainly Cosworth engines, hardly any Manufacturer teams, multiple race winners per season…. It’s like the 1960’s all over again.
        Do we have a new golden era of F1 approaching?

    • Random Chimp said on 4th November 2009, 12:38

      Plus romours of McLaren buying BMW’s engine division

  3. GeeMac said on 4th November 2009, 12:10

    I have said it once and I will say it again… F1 doesn’t need manufacturer teams. The motor manufacturers should build engines and leave racing to true racers like Frank Williams.

    I personally would rather have loads of “independent teams” on the grid whose sole aim is to excel in Formula 1 than have a massive motor corporation on the grid because it wants to gain advertising exposure.

    Toyota were always a team that was devoid of passion and it always seemed that at the back of the R&D lab there was an accountant keeping an eye on exactly how much of the massive budget was left…not exactly ideal conditions to run a team in.

    Byeeee!

    • mp4-19b said on 4th November 2009, 13:13

      F1 doesn’t need manufacturer teams. The motor manufacturers should build engines and leave racing to true racers like Frank Williams.

      Couldn’t agree more. These manufacturers can showcase their “BIG EGO” elsewhere!

  4. Kinda sad
    I guess Kobayashi won’t be racing
    I was looking forward to seeing him next year.

    The drivers better watch their money and spend it wisely, things are getting tough out there

  5. The Sri Lankan said on 4th November 2009, 12:30

    I have been rooting for the red and white cars with that blue Panasonic Logo. This is not the end of Toyota in Motor sports Lemans is the next frontier and a very safe bet for toyota. i can hold my head up high even now knowing that i made the right decision in supporting Toyota all the way till the end – a Massive TOYOTA FAN!

    • mp4-19b said on 4th November 2009, 13:15

      Never knew Toyota had fans! Let alone Ralf :P

      • Ned Flanders said on 4th November 2009, 14:03

        Neither did I! What’s there to like about Toyota??

        • The Sri Lankan said on 4th November 2009, 22:41

          Flanders you are a troll. try to move outside your mums room and think for once with that minute brain of yours that TOYOTA being the biggest car manufacturer in the world may have atleast a few thousand fans. this may-be a joke to everyone but TOYOTA leaving F1 is a big hit to the way the sport is run..whos campos, manor and USF1? do these teams even contribute anything to the world of automobiles? soon F1 will be like Champcars

        • ” What’s there to like about Toyota??” Well, speaking only for myself, I won a Panasonic Viera LCD TV in a competition they were running at the Melbourne GP about 2 years ago, so I had a bit of a soft spot for them after that !

          But that’s it. That’s the highlight for 8 years of racing. Pretty poor epitaph. And I sold the TV on ebay :)

          What I am mostly annoyed about is that Toyota signed a legally binding contract to race in F1 until 2012. If the teams choose to ignore the Concorde agreement, then why should Bernie or the FIA honour their side of it. I might be old fashioned, but I always thought that contracts were binding, and furthermore should be honoured.

  6. Rob Wilson said on 4th November 2009, 12:32

    Noooooooo!!!! Kobayashi!!!!!!!! :'(

  7. Kobayashi could yet get a drive in one of the new teams of course.

    I doubt Sauber will take him – they already have Heidfeld and Klien on their books.

  8. Icthyes said on 4th November 2009, 12:38

    Sad for the workers who will lose their jobs.

    I won’t really miss Toyota, though I hope Kobayashi gets a drive. But I’m not jumping on the anti-manufacturer bandwagon. Frank Williams has shown that privateers can be just as intractable and an obstruction to progress, and the fate of the Jordan team is as good a reminder as any that they too can just up and leave. The fact that there are apparently doubts over “two” of the new teams (most articles never go into detail, though it’s probably Campos and Manor) is further evidence against the idea of bad manufacturers/good independents.

    The only real difference I can see is that the independents aren’t as ready to leave because of bad results, but ultimately the black/white designation of the situation by Mosley and others is over-simplistic.

    • Kevin said on 4th November 2009, 13:27

      Jordan didn’t up and leave for the fun of. They left because of the spiralling costs caused by the manufacturers. He simply sold up before he went bust

    • Martin said on 4th November 2009, 14:05

      Some of them race first for the racing. If they can get enough sponsorship to support the program, that is good. If they are successful then they get more sponsorship and life is good/great. The mfg’s and the BOD’s are what is putting the pressure on for the results. Timelines cannot be set in stone for racing like they can for mfg, there are to many unknowns every season.
      What team other than Ferrari, has been based outside of England and been successful in F1? I cannot remember any team, and by successful, I mean has won multiple races and challenged for either the contructor or driver championship.
      I say good ridance to all of the mfg’s that arent in the sport to advance their own technology and develope parts that will eventually make it into their road cars.
      Toyota, BMW, Honda, and now possibly Renault gone. Maybe we will get back to the great times of F1, but only if we are rid of some of the non racing personalities that are involved in the promotion and running of the sport.

      • What team other than Ferrari, has been based outside of England and been successful in F1? I cannot remember any team, and by successful, I mean has won multiple races and challenged for either the contructor or driver championship.

        Your point is a sound one, although there have been a few examples. French based teams have had some success – Renault challenged for titles in the early 1980s and Ligier won races in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Jackie Stewart’s first title came in a Tyrrell-run French Matra chassis. Dan Guerney took single victories for All American Racers and Porsche but they don’t meet your criteria. The old Alfa Romeo factory team didn’t have any notable success beyond the 1950s.

      • CeeVee777 said on 4th November 2009, 22:35

        1950 Farina won the first WDC in an Alfa Romeo
        1951 Fangio won the WDC in an Alfa Romeo.
        1954 Fangio won the WDC in a Maserati/Mercedes-Benz, (he swapped teams half way through the season)
        1955 Fangio won the WDC in a Mercedes-Benz

        Other than that you’re probably right, although there have been non-UK based teams they haven’t achieved much.

        • Martin said on 4th November 2009, 22:52

          You both get my point. I mean in modern times1960-2009. I dont give alot of hope to USF1 now that they are going to stage up in Spain.(Nothing against Spain) It is that the Mecca of F1 racing is in England and I dont see that changing. If someone buys the Toyota team the first thing I would do is move it to England as well as Sauber.

  9. Maverick_232 said on 4th November 2009, 12:40

    Sensible for Toyota, bad for F1..
    Even more so since the first time i can remember they have a very fresh driver who looked able to take the car beyond its limits.

    Surely Kobasmashi will get a drive next year!

  10. The Limit said on 4th November 2009, 12:41

    Like others here I feel sorry for Kobayashi, but as for the team I am less sympathetic. Toyota spent billions in F1 during the boom years, and never looked like a winning team then. All this business about winning a race to stay for 2010 just shows how pathetic these people are.
    In the long run, when this economy turns around, these teams that walked away will seriously regret their decision as Formula One goes from strength to strength. I really think now that Renault will be gone within the week too, which would be disastrous for Robert Kubica.
    The reality, sadly for F1, is three engine suppliers for all the teams involved, which would still be two more than the IRL have.

  11. kitco255 said on 4th November 2009, 12:42

    I heard, they will be Asian F1 championship. No surprise the withdrawn of Bridgestone, Honda, Subaru and other Asian team motor sports company. Wait and see

  12. Jhonnie siggie said on 4th November 2009, 12:42

    It might be cheaper for toyota to sell the team rather than simply leave so this does not necessarily mean a place for saber

    • Adrian said on 4th November 2009, 13:02

      Problem is, who would buy it?

      From what I’ve read, part of Toyota’s problem in becoming a winning team has been in getting the staff it needs to relocate to Cologne.

      That said, I would rather see someone buy up Toyota F1 than have the (reportedly questionable) Quadbak involved in F1.

      Question: Is Peter Suber still a shareholder in BMW Sauber now Quadbak have bought it up? Could he take the Toyota operation off their hands..??

  13. Toyota never added much sparkle to the scene but the loss of Bridgestone is very serious not only in itself but also for the air of uncertainty which may persuade others to give up. Grave times ahead

  14. GeeMac said on 4th November 2009, 13:01

    I was just thinking that if the Renault board decide to pull the plug on the F1 team Kubica would have lost a drive twice in the same year because of a decision by the board of a major motor manufacturer… that would surely be a first! ;-)

    • steph90 said on 4th November 2009, 14:19

      Glock would have almost done that, Toyota didn’t resign him but then they pulled out anyway and he is rumoured to be close to a deal with Renault.

  15. Kobayashi is going to have alot of calls from new F1 teams or even currently established F1 teams!
    He put on a good performance with Toyota, He deserves a drive next year! Same for glock.

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